A line of credit gives you access to funds up to a set dollar amount, allowing you to draw what you need with flexibility. This financing tool allows you to draw up to your limit and pay off the balance on a continuous basis. The key feature of this product is flexibility in which you can draw at anytime, to use for any business purpose, and you can reuse next time.
Applying for a Business Line of Credit: Common Reasons?
Whether you’re just starting out or you have an established company with a strong history, there are many reasons why you may wish to apply for a business line of credit. Lines of credit provide money for:
Funding start-up cost
Paying off bills from recent launch
Covering accounts payable when cash flow is slow
Launching new products
Purchasing new equipment to improve business
Planning for future improvements, it’s important to have a clear strategy on how you’re going to use your money obtained from the line. Banks are not interested in lending to companies with only vague notions of how the funding is going to be put to work. They want to ensure that their investment in you and your business is creating growth within a company so that they can be assured of repayment. With this in mind, it is important to have a detailed business plan to emphasize how you will best utilize the funds.
Applying for a Business Line of Credit?
When seeking financing for growth or to cover gaps in cash flow, small businesses have an easy pathway to funding. Business lines of credit are easier to access, and quicker to apply for and have friendlier terms for repayment.
Lines of credit work with a credit card, allowing you to borrow against a set amount as needed and only requiring interest payments on the money you use. The credit line assigned acts as a rainy-day fund for your business needs.
Why a Business Line of Credit Makes Sense:
Having quick and easy access to funds can be a game changer for any small business. A business line of credit is perfect for businesses with seasonal sales cycles and monthly cash flow fluctuations. It’s also ideal for businesses that typically have unpredictable, or “wavy” cash flow, or need to invest in their business to grow. A Business Line of Credit can be a powerful tool in your company’s arsenal that will help you achieve growth and success.
Qualifiers for a Business Line of Credit:
Origination fee due up front
680 FICO and above
G.A.S 3 million minimum
Positive AR & AP report
Lines of credit up to 12 million
Minimum five years’ time in business
Funding from Premier Business Lending:
Premier Business Lending being your preferred Lender, our team has been able to help with cash flow for a few different companies with a Business Line of Credit.
We were able to facilitate a Logging Company in Oregon with a $250m amortized over 5 years with prime plus 2%. Another Line of Credit Premier Business Lending was able to facilitate was a Fitness Company out of San Francisco for all their equipment that has a $200m Line of Credit for operating coast with a $500m credit for equipment.
Premier Business Lending takes pride in their clients and always makes sure to guide the client in the correct direction. This also opens doors for repeat clients and long-term partnerships. As that’s what Premier Business Lending strives for on a day to day bases.
From a lending industry standpoint, inside sales is growing for several reasons including supply and demand. The availability of experienced lending and commercial finance sales talent has been strained over the last several years. Lenders seeking to grow through hiring the conventional sales person with a “book of business” has never been more difficult. Growing new originations through an inside sales model is providing a cost-effective and available alternative that is working—and as we will see—working better than most people even realize.
Another key reason for the surge is cost and efficiency. From a pure cost standpoint and on a productivity basis, a well-run inside sales effort is an extremely cost-effective way to scale a sales force. The cost of talent and the cost of a customer sale can be a fraction of the cost of other methods when inside sales is working.
Premier Business Lending has notice the management of the sales team is also easier and more measurable in an inside sales paradigm. Managing a remote sales team has clear logistical challenges and running an inside sales team involves a much more efficient management platform and better training environment. Run right, inside sales as a strategy can be truly transformational. A manager’s ability to track key performance indicators— including calls made, call connects and talk-time—is powerful. The environment of a scaled inside sales floor provides real-time training and creates a dynamic work environment more suited to the development and retention of talent than a single remote sales person working out of a home office.
Breaking down Equipment Lending By State
The vast majority of states fall under $25 billion dollars of equipment financing. States like California, Texas and New York dramatically outstrip the rest of the country, with $104 billion, $90 billion and $53 billion dollars respectively. These same three states held the top three positions in 2011 as well, indicating the economic concentration of the market. In terms of growth, however, Alabama grew at a 9% CAGR, more than any other state between 2011 and 2016 (Figure 12). Other high growth states are Texas, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Montana. This is vastly different from the growth recorded between 2007 and 2011, where the Dakotas, West Virginia and Oregon were growing at well above the national average (Figure 12). Average growth has jumped considerably. Between 2007 and 2011, 27 states had negative compound annual growth rates (Figure 11). This year, there are only six (Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Alaska and South Dakota). The collapse in oil prices, along with low agricultural commodity prices, have been the biggest factors impacting these states. South Dakota, which has the largest contraction in financing growth at -7.8% CAGR since 2011, is heavily reliant on agriculture, which is volatile due to highly variant weather conditions and recent low commodity prices. While manufacturing remains strong, the market for equipment financing is suffering due to subdued construction gains and a depressed agricultural market. Early in the growth period, states like North Dakota and Alaska were experiencing an oil boom. The Bakken shale formation in the northwest corner of North Dakota saw high rates of economic activity, nearly tripling oil production in the region since 2005. The plummeting price of oil, however, has dried up most of the opportunities in the area. Since 2011, the by-state growth as switched dramatically. Alaska’s heavy dependence on the oil sector has caused small but persistent employment losses. The state government depends on oil revenues to fund 90 percent of its revenues, which means public sector investment is also down with the price of crude. Large oil exploration projects are ready to move forward, once there is a rebound in oil and gas prices. Wyoming’s oil sector has similarly bottomed out, which has caused contractions in the financing market. Environmental concerns will restrain new exploration and demand for Wyoming’s energy resources, which are primarily in the form of coal reserves. Wyoming governor Matt Mead is encouraging technology sector growth in the state, which may have a future positive impact on financing in Wyoming. Texas, a large energy producer in the United States, is still experiencing higher growth. It is likely that this financing growth will continue, as the repeal of the crude export ban will spur expansion and technological innovations continue to increase the efficiency of extraction. Currently, its hospitality, business services, health, and education sectors continue to grow payrolls, which is good news for the financing market. Financing activity in Alabama has been helped by the increase in business activity, as manufacturers like Remington Arms and Polaris have opened factories in the past few years. This expansion in manufacturing investment is likely the root of the Alabama financing market’s 8.9 percent compound annual growth rate between 2011 and 2016.
Looking forward, the equipment finance market is poised for a period of modest, but steady growth. 2016 has been a year of subdued growth, but financing activity has outperformed overall investment activity. Banks continue to hold the largest share of the market, although Captives and Independents have been gaining share and pushing the market in new directions. Interviews with executives in the equipment leasing and finance industry identified increased demand for managed solutions and fintech offerings as potential drivers of growth in the market. Despite low financing costs, investment in new equipment in software has been held back by excess global capacity, low commodity prices, a strong dollar, and sluggish export markets. IHS Market expects public and private investment in equipment and software to finish 2016 at 0.5% annual growth. Spending on equipment is forecast to improve in 2017 and 2018 as the drags from the stronger dollar and low energy prices dissipate and companies invest at rates consistent with an economy growing at a 2-3% rate. Public and private investment in equipment and software is expected to expand by 3.3% in 2017, and accelerate to 5.0% growth in 2018. Increased competition, though beneficial from a lessee’s perspective is putting significant pressure on profit margins. According to the 2016 SEFA, respondents indicated increasing cost of funds over the past two years, driving down pre-tax spreads. With abundant liquidity in the market, and limited growth in new equipment investment, competition for new business is fierce. An improving economy and increased investment in 2017 and 2018, should help to ease some of the pressure on margins
You’ve decided it’s time you need some heavy equipment or trucks. Maybe you’ve got some big contracts coming down the pipe, you’re growing or expanding your company’s capabilities, or you just need to replace your current heavy equipment. So how do you decide when to buy equipment and trucks and when to rent what you need? Premier Business Lending has helped business owners answer these questions for years.
With pros and cons to both renting and buying, it pays to evaluate your company’s current situation and capabilities (financial and otherwise), your future, and carefully consider which method of acquiring equipment will be most advantageous to your business – and which is also simply going to make your life easier. Certainly, initial cost is a major factor in the decision process, but it’s not the only one – there are several things to consider when it’s time to gear up – usage, availability and more.
Here’s an overview of some of the things you should bear in mind before deciding when to buy and when to rent equipment.
1. Current financial situation
This seems like the most obvious factor to consider – do you currently have the capital to buy or is renting a better option for now? But you should look beyond your current situation and project your costs over several months or years. Although buying may be a larger one-time financial outlay, the cost of renting can add up quickly, and over a long period can end up costing you more – especially if the equipment isn’t being used for the entire rental period. And don’t forget: when you own, you can see a return on your investment when you sell. You can reduce the initial financial impact of buying a piece of equipment in many ways:
Buy good quality used equipment – when you rent, you are often paying for the newest equipment with the latest technology; purchasing well-maintained used equipment can be cheaper than buying new equipment and may be more cost-effective than renting over the long term
Finance your equipment purchase – give your company some extra financial breathing room by financing your equipment purchases and keeping your capital to run your business; with financing rates as low as 4.5%, your payments could even be lower than rental payments with Premier Business Lending.
2. Cost of Buying vs Cost of Renting
3. Length of project or job frequency
Of all the things to consider, project length or the frequency of jobs on the calendar could be the deciding factor in whether you rent or buy equipment. If it’s a short-term job, or you need a specialized piece of equipment for a one-off job, then renting may make more sense. The risk, of course, is that if the machine isn’t being used for the entire time it’s rented due to changes in the project schedule or unforeseen hold ups, then you’re spending money on a machine that’s sitting and waiting, not making you money.
If you’re working on a long project, or if you’ve got several jobs on the horizon, then buying probably makes better sense given that rental costs add up quickly the longer a job goes on. And a multi-purpose piece of equipment (loaders, excavators, skid steers, forklifts, trucks etc.) that can be used for various projects is a great asset on any jobsite.
4. Equipment availability & usage
The big advantage of owing your own equipment is that it’s available to you 24/7 – “if you own it, you control it”, as the saying goes. You can react to unexpected changes in projects or project schedules, take on jobs at a moment’s notice and complete projects with less downtime.
Before you decide whether to rent or buy, you should weigh the potential risk of a rental company not having the machine you need when you need it. Owning can be a plus to potential clients too, who see it and know you’re not only equipped to take on their job, but are a going concern and a stable, trustworthy business.
5. Fleet management and inventory control
Managing your equipment is also something to consider. If you have the skills and the time, you can save money over the long haul by buying some or all your equipment and taking care of insurance, maintenance, etc yourself; if you don’t, you may want to pay a little extra to rent. You’ll know where it is, who’s running it, and you can schedule jobs and equipment accordingly.
For shorter term jobs, you may want to consider renting, but buying gives you added flexibility. Let’s say you project that you’ll need a piece of equipment for three months. If the job extends for another two months, you have the machine at your disposal. If the job ends and you decide you don’t need it, we can help, you sell it again at another upcoming auction and recoup some of your investment. The frequency of our unreserved auctions in different locations gives you a great ability to control your inventory, and even profit from equipment you don’t need anymore.
Pros and cons: buying versus renting equipment and trucks
✔ Lower initial investment
✔ Access to a broader range of equipment at all times
✔ Latest equipment usually offered
✔ Maintenance, insurance etc. handled by another party
✔ Cheaper over the long term
✔ Get a return on your investment when you no longer need the equipment
✔ More flexible—equipment available whenever you need it
✔ Less downtime
✔ Possible tax advantages
Leasing: The Benefits
Leasing keeps your equipment up-to-date. Computers and other tech equipment eventually become obsolete. With a lease, you pass the financial burden of obsolescence to the equipment leasing company. For example, let’s say you have a two-year lease on a copy machine. After that lease expires, you’re free to lease whatever equipment is newer, faster and cheaper. (This is also a reason some people prefer to lease their cars.) In fact, 65 percent of respondents to a 2015 Equipment Leasing Association survey said the ability to have the latest equipment was leasing’s number-one perceived benefit.
You’ll have predictable monthly expenses. With a lease, you have a pre-determined monthly line item, which can help you budget more effectively. Thirty-five percent of respondents to the Equipment Leasing Association’s survey said this was leasing’s second-highest benefit.
You pay nothing up front. Many small businesses struggle with cash flow and must keep their coffers as full as possible. Because leases rarely require a down payment, you can acquire new equipment without tapping much-needed funds.
You’re able to more easily keep up with your competitors. Leasing can enable your small business to acquire sophisticated technology, such as a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system, that might be otherwise unaffordable. The result: You’re better able to keep up with your larger competitors without draining your financial resources.
Buying: The Benefits
It’s easier than leasing. Buying equipment is easy–you decide what you need, then go out and buy it. Taking out a lease, however, involves at least some paperwork, as leasing companies often ask for detailed, updated financial information. They may also ask how and where the leased equipment will be used. Also, lease terms can be complicated to negotiate. And if you don’t negotiate properly, you could end up paying more than you should or receiving unfavorable terms.
You call the shots regarding maintenance. Equipment leases often require you to maintain equipment according to the leasing company’s specifications, and that can get expensive. When you buy the equipment outright, you determine the maintenance schedule yourself.
Your equipment is deductible. Section 179 of the IRS code lets you deduct the full cost of newly purchased assets, such as computer equipment, in the first year. With most leases favored by small businesses–called operating leases–you can only deduct the monthly payment.
Northern California has a large variety of options for purchasing equipment and renting equipment. With the economy continuing to rise thanks to much of the success of small business, there is more options today than ever before. So how do you make the smart choice as to who to trust? Premier Business Lending has a strong track record in dealings for equipment leasing and finance. The trusted finance consultants are always a call away and eager to help.
“Construction, Transportation and Trucking equipment has been thriving in 2016, credit windows are opening up once again and it’s great to see” says Eric Jenkins, Senior Managing Partner with Premier Business Lending.
The greater Sacramento Area specifically has seen the construction industry and equipment leasing spike this second part of 2016. This is a good sign for business owners in the construction arena heading into 2017.
Before you start applying for a loan, you need to answer several critical questions to help you determine which kind of lender and loan is best for you:
How much money do you need?
What do you need the money for?
How quickly do you need the money?
How long will it take you to pay it back?
How long have you been in business?
What is the current financial shape of your business?
How much collateral, if any, do you have to put up for the loan?
Answering these questions will help determine if you should pursue a government-backed loan, a loan or line of credit through a bank, or a cash advance, line of credit or loan from an alternative lender.
Premier Business Lending offers many different types of financial products to support its customer base. Eric Jenkins, Managing Partner says: “Every small business owner has different needs at different times. Premier Business Lending’s uniqueness is that we can accommodate much of the marketplace by providing custom fit financing based on each customer’s individual needs. For example: One of our larger Franchisee’s may need a $100,000 SBA product today but will want $150,000 equipment purchase tomorrow.”
Premier Business lending recently helped White Hawk Carriers located in Stockton California secure a $250,000 working capital bridge loan last month. Juana Solorzano, CFO for White Hawk Carriers said “Several times per year White Hawk Carriers may need a cash injection to create immediate cash flow for the Business. Most of our Vendors typically pay us on a net 45 or even net 60. So it is very helpful and makes sense for us to have quick access to capital so we do not stall projects.”
There are many finance options available to small business owners today, Jenkins says: “It is important for business owners to have guidance when deciding which financial product will best suits their needs”. Premier’s Finance Consultants are experts in all business lending products. SBA Loans, Conventional Bank Loans, Alternative Financing, Equipment Leasing, Lines of Credit, Hybrid Lines of Credit, Franchise Lending, Start Up Franchise Lending and Merchant Cash Advances. Trying to maneuver through all of this information and financial jungle of our industry can be very intimidating for business owners. When all they are trying to do is make the best decision for their business. This is exactly why Premier Business Lending takes the time to properly train our finance consultants to help consult today’s business owners vs. our competition that for the most part are turning and burning their sales reps and their customers.”
Here are the basics of the most common products available for small business owners:
Currently, the SBA offers four types of small business loans:
7(a) Loan Program: 7(a) loans, the SBA’s primary lending program, are the most basic, common and flexible type of loan. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, to purchase machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures, the purchase of land and buildings, construction of new buildings, renovation of an existing building, to establish a new business or assist in the acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business, and debt refinancing. These loans have a maximum amount of $5 million, and borrowers can apply through a participating lender. Loan maturity is up to 10 years for working capital and generally up to 25 years for fixed assets.
Microloan program: The SBA offers very small loans to new or growing small businesses. The loans can be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery or equipment, but can’t be used to pay existing debts or purchase real estate. The SBA makes funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance. Those intermediaries then make loans up to $50,000, with the average loan being about $13,000. The loan repayment terms vary based on several factors, including the loan amount, planned use of funds, requirements determined by the intermediary lender and the needs of the small business borrower. The maximum repayment term allowed for an SBA microloan is six years.
Real estate and equipment loans: The CDC/504 Loan Program provides businesses with long-term fixed-rate financing for major assets, such as equipment and real estate. The loans are typically structured with the SBA providing 40 percent of the total project costs, a participating lender covering up to 50 percent and the borrower putting up the remaining 10 percent. Funds from a 504 loan can be used to purchase existing buildings, land or long-term machinery; to construct or renovate facilities; or to refinance debt in connection with an expansion of the business. These loans cannot be used for working capital or inventory. The maximum amount of a 504 loan is $5.5 million, and these loans are available with 10- or 20-year maturity terms.
Disaster loans: The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, as well as inventory and business assets that were damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster. The SBA makes disaster loans of up to $2 million to qualified businesses.
Loans from conventional banks and alternative lenders
Banks and alternative lenders offer some similar loans to those offered by the SBA, as well as funding options that the SBA doesn’t offer, including the following:
Working-capital loans: Working-capital loans are designed as short-term solutions for businesses in need of money to help run their operation. Working-capital loans are available from both banks and alternative lenders. The advantage of a working-capital loan is that it gives small businesses the ability to keep their operations running while they search for other ways to increase revenue. Some downsides of a working-capital loan are that they often come with higher interest rates and have short repayment terms.
Equipment loans: In addition to the SBA, both banks and alternative lenders offer their own types of equipment loans. Equipment loans and leases provide money to small businesses for office equipment, like copy machines and computers, or things such as machinery, tools and vehicles. Instead of paying for the large purchases all at once up front, equipment loans allow business owners to make monthly payments on the items. One benefit of equipment loans is that they are often easier to obtain than some other types of loans because the equipment being purchased or leased serves as collateral. Equipment loans preserve cash flow since they don’t require a large down payment and may offer some tax write-offs.
Merchant cash advance: This type of loan is made to a business based on the volume of its monthly credit card transactions. Businesses can typically receive an advance of up to 125 percent of their monthly transaction volume. The terms for repaying a merchant cash advance vary by lender. Some take a fixed amount of money out of a business’s merchant account every day, while others take a percentage of the daily credit card sales. The best candidates for merchant cash advances are businesses with strong credit card sales, such as retailers, restaurants and service businesses. The advantages of merchant cash advances are that they are relatively easy to obtain, funding can be received in as quickly as a few days, and the loan is paid back directly from credit card sales. The biggest downside is the expense: Interest on these loans can run as high as 30 percent a month, depending on the lender and amount borrowed.
Lines of credit: Like working-capital loans, lines of credit provide small businesses money for day-to-day cash-flow needs. They are not recommended for larger purchases, and are available for as short as 90 days to as long as several years. With a line of credit, you take only what you need and pay interest only on what you use, rather than the entire amount. These loans are usually unsecured and don’t require any collateral. They also have longer repayment terms and give you the ability to build up your credit rating if you make the interest payments on time. The downsides are the additional fees charged and that they put small businesses in jeopardy of building up a large amount of debt.
Professional practice loans: Professional practice loans are designed specifically for providers of professional services, such as businesses in the health care, accounting, legal, insurance, engineering, architecture and veterinary fields. These types of loans are typically used for purchasing a practice, buying real estate, renovating office space, buying new equipment and refinancing debt.
Franchise startup loans: Franchise startup loans are designed for entrepreneurs who need financing to help open their own franchise business. These loans, offered by banks and alternative lenders, can be used for working capital, or to pay franchise fees, buy equipment and build stores or restaurants.
Premier Business Lending provides needed capital for small businesses to help them maintain and keep their business growing. Whether it’s for payroll, inventory, supplies or expansion small business funding can get you the capital you need in days. While a traditional bank loan may be more cost effective, almost 85% of small businesses that apply for a bank loan are declined. Traditional lenders put a lot of weight on personal credit and time in business. The alternative lenders that we work with do not. Our lending partners can provide lending decisions in just 24 hours with minimal paperwork.
Working Capital Loan Requirements
To receive a working capital loan requires just 4 months of business bank statements, our one page application, driver’s license, voided check, and copy of your lease or mortgage statement (if you’re a home based business). Our expertise in finding working capital loans for small business owners is due to our strong relationships with the country’s top alternative private lenders and knowing what type of industries they like to work with. We also have our own in house financing division which will carefully review each file and provide the best available options for each business owner. Each has their own minimum thresholds relating to average daily balances, time in business, capital needs, FICO scores, industry, and cash flows. The minimal requirements are:
Time in Business at least 12 months
Minimum monthly revenues of $25,000
Must have a business checking account￼￼
Expectations of A Working Capital Loan
When receiving an alternative working capital loan you should be mindful of several things. These are short term business advances ranging between 3 and 12 months. These are primarily for small businesses that cannot get traditional bank funding and therefore deemed higher risk. The cost of capital will be higher. The repayment of these loans is via a daily ACH debit from your bank account, Monday through Friday, or through your credit card processing (again accepting credit cards are not a requirement). The amounts that you can be approved for will be based on your revenues, typically 7% to 20% of gross yearly revenues. Again, these are short term loans for short term business issues such as paying taxes, making payroll, buying inventory, expansion, etc… Most importantly, these working capital loans are a way of getting capital fast. Many small business owners having pressing issues that require fast solutions. Premier Business Lending have fast solutions. You can receive capital in as little as 48 hours after submitting the few documents that are required. These are not for start ups or for buying an existing business. Underwriters are viewing you as a business owner and your experience at running the specific business as a way of determining how much to advance.
If your small business is like most, you operate on a very tight budget and may need additional funds in order to take advantage of an opportunity that helps your business grow. If your business is a startup or doesn’t quite meet the bank’s requirements for a conventional loan, an alternative business loan may be a viable solution for your funding needs.
However, if your credit is good, you have time to apply and wait for a small business loan, the SBA 7(a), can give you better interest rates and longer repayment terms.
If you intend to use your loan to purchase real estate or long-term-use equipment, an SBA commercial loan, in conjunction with an SBA CDC loan can provide you with 90% of the financing required for the project and the lowest interest rates. If you need startup business loans or less than $50,000, microloans or alternative microloans are practical options to consider.
Is an Alternative Business Loan Right for You?
Alternative business loans are generally smaller than conventional bank loans, with available amounts starting as low as $2,000 and maximum amounts of up to $500,000. Terms are shorter, ranging from one month up to five years.
Interest rates are higher than conventional loans, with the best interest rates averaging from 6% to 25%, like Premier Business Lending whose rates start at 5.9%. However, some alternative lenders may charge much, much higher rates, since alternative lenders aren’t subject to the same regulations as banks.
The biggest benefit of alternative loans is that lenders are eager to lend to small businesses, even those that haven’t been in business for a long time or that have less-than-perfect credit. Because of this, alternative loans are easier to apply for than conventional loans, with shorter, less paperwork-intensive applications; most are online and can be completed in under an hour.
Alternative Business Loans: What Should You Look For?
Before you accept any loan offer, it’s important to read the entire contract and ensure that you understand exactly what interest rates, fees, costs and penalties you can expect and that you know exactly how much the loan costs in total, as well as upfront expenditures and daily or monthly payments.
You want to be ensure that you understand your obligations and repayment responsibilities, and that you have the means to repay the loan in full and on time.
Loan Amounts: The dollar amounts available to you varies from lender to lender, with the smallest alternative loans starting at $2,000, and the largest as high as $500,000, although most offer up to $150,000.
However, the amount that lenders are willing to extend may depend on your business’s health, which they evaluate using several factors, including your cash flow and your business and personal credit history.
Interest Rates: Interest rates are higher than you would expect to pay for a conventional loan, and may be expressed as a flat fee instead of a percentage-based interest rate, which can make it confusing to compare against other loan options.
Loans with terms of less than a year can also make it difficult to see the actual APR. You can find online calculators that can help you convert the fees and rates to an APR, which gives you a consistent number to use for apples-to-apples comparisons.
Be aware that the alternative lenders are not subject to the same regulation as banks and interest rates for some alternative loans may be exorbitant.
Fees: Most loans include an origination fee of up to 5% of your loan, although most average around 3%. Lenders may also charge an underwriting fee or a maintenance fee. Because fees vary from lender to lender, it’s important to read your contract.
If the fees you are quoted differ from the fees in the contract, you want to ensure that the lender updates the contract to reflect the quote they gave you before you accept the loan.
Repayment Terms: Alternative business loans have much shorter terms than conventional loans. Most offer options of less than a year, with the shortest having a term of just a month and the longest with repayment terms up to five years.
The average repayment term is between 12 and 24 months.If you’re small business needs a loan in order to take advantage of a time-sensitive opportunity, or if you don’t quite qualify for a conventional loan and need an influx of funds to help your company grow, an alternative business loan can be worth considering.
You don’t have to walk into your local bank to a get a small-business loan these days. Alternative lending options are just a few computer keystrokes away.
And they’re becoming more popular.
Online lenders, which offer the most common forms of alternative lending, approved 71% of the loan applications they received from small-business borrowers last year, according to a 2015 survey by a group of Federal Reserve banks. That’s the second-highest rate after small banks, which approved 76%, and much higher than the 58% approved by big banks.
But alternative business loans can be complicated and confusing, even risky. They’re not for everyone.
In fact, only 15% of small-business borrowers in the Federal Reserve survey said they were satisfied with their experience with online lenders, the lowest rate among financial institutions in the report. (That compares to 75% for small banks, 56% for credit unions and 51% for large banks.) The top reasons for dissatisfaction given were high interest rates, unfavorable repayment terms and a lack of transparency.
So when is alternative lending good — or not so well — for your business?
Alternative lending is good when you can’t get a bank loan
Alternative lending took off in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when banks pulled back dramatically from issuing small-business loans. Online lenders stepped in to fill the void, creating Web-based platforms that could quickly process loan applications, providing relief for small-business owners turned away by banks.
Technology was a key factor in this development, as it allowed new players to swiftly evaluate the creditworthiness of borrowers. Online lenders use different types of data — bank statements, tax returns, online accounting sites and even social media accounts — to analyze potential borrowers’ personal and business finances.
There are four main kinds of alternative or online financing:
A term loan is a lump sum you borrow and repay in about four or five years based on set terms, including the annual percentage rate. This is generally the least expensive type of financing.
A line of credit gives you access to a set amount of cash that you tap when necessary. This is generally used by businesses that need short-term financing to bridge cash-flow gaps.
Invoice factoring, also known as invoice financing or accounts receivable financing, is an option for small businesses that deal with unpaid invoices. Instead of just waiting to be paid, you can get an advance on those invoices, which you then pay back along with a fee when your customers settle their accounts.
Merchant cash advances offer a way to get an advance on future credit card or debit card sales. They’re easy to get, but think twice about applying because merchant cash advances are typically very expensive. The APR can range from 70% to 350%.
Banks still offer the best deals, especially federally guaranteed SBA loans. But those are usually tough to get, and you have to deal with stringent requirements and a long wait.
Alternative lending is good when you need quick cash
Alternative lending offers a way to deal with a pressing business need or an emergency. If your plumbing goes out or you suddenly run out of supplies, you can’t really wait weeks, or even days, to fix the problem. Quick access to capital helps you deal with the problem immediately.
With bank loans, especially financing backed by the Small Business Administration, you have to submit a long list of documents, including any business leases and a detailed financial history. In contrast, many online lenders require fewer documents. And for many online lenders, the main focus is whether you have the cash flow to make the payments.
In addition, you can get funds from alternative lenders within days, even a few hours, and the requirements are typically easier to meet.
Alternative lenders also provide longer-term loans to invest in growth, such as opening a new store or hiring more workers. Of course, as noted, in exchange for quicker and easier access, your borrowing costs are likely to be higher.
Alternative lending isn’t good when you get stuck with high APR, steep payments
Getting quick and easy financing has a price. Online lenders generally charge a higher APR, which is the true cost of the loan, including all fees.
A few online lenders offer APRs in the single digits, but you need excellent personal credit and a profitable business to qualify for them.
Most alternative business lenders offer loans with double-digit, even triple-digit, rates.
That’s because most online lenders get their funding from capital markets, so their lending costs are higher than those of banks. And lenders are taking on higher risk to extend credit to borrowers who are likely to be rejected by traditional banks.
Most online lenders also require shorter loan terms, which mean higher regular payments.
Evaluate small-business loans carefully
Alternative lending has multiple upsides — among them, speed, convenience and looser requirements. But it’s essential to compare loans by APR and make sure you can handle the required payments.
According to the Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans own or work for a small business. In fact, small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year, making them an integral part of our economy.
Despite this importance, many small businesses continue to have a hard time securing the funding they need to grow and thrive – at least through traditional banking. If you’re a small business owner, you may have already learned this the hard way.
Why is it so hard for a small business to get a traditional loan? Let’s take the example of a small retail boutique owner who needs a loan but has little to offer in assets to secure it. Say this owner goes to her local bank and applies for a $20,000 loan. The odds are she won’t get a loan approval, but will instead walk away with a credit card application. This is because from a bank’s perspective, that’s about all they can do. Loans of this size simply are not profitable. The cost and considerable manpower required to process them don’t really move the needle for the bank.
In contrast, more agile online lenders such as Premier Business Lending leverage technology to cost-efficiently process hundreds of applications a month. This makes it entirely feasible for us to work with small business owners whose loan needs aren’t as large. In fact, we strive to deliver the best alternative to traditional bank loans by making our terms fair and our application process as easy, fast, and straightforward as possible.
The American economy relies upon small businesses for stability and growth. However, to grow, expand and ultimately succeed, small businesses require consistent and reliable access to capital. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, young firms rely heavily on external debt, receiving about three-quarters of their funds from banks via loans, credit cards and lines of credit.
Data provided by the Office of Advocacy reveals that in 2013, over 5.4 million loans were approved for small businesses. Borrowing amounted to about $1 trillion — including $585 billion in outstanding business loans and $422 billion in credit from finance companies, with the rest from a mix of sources. The increased demand for quick and easy access to working capital has sparked fierce competition among lenders to provide alternative lending options that meet the needs of small businesses; however, the type of financing they require will vary depending on the industry and stage of the business.
Here are four principal reasons that small businesses need to borrow money and some alternative lending options available for each:
1. Starting a Business
The average cost to start a business can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $30,000, depending on the nature of your business. It is often difficult to get approved for a loan because most lenders want to see a track record of success and profit.
If you’re starting a business and need start-up capital, first figure out how much you need. Then, look into raising the necessary funds. If securing a bank loan isn’t possible, consider reaching out to your immediate network of family and friends to raise the initial seed money or seek crowd funding agencies.
Once you have your business off the ground and have established a track record of success, it may still be difficult to obtain a small business loan to finance business-growth operations. Premier Business Lending offers a credible alternative for businesses to get a quick loan.
In order to qualify, you must have at least $100,000 in revenue at the end of your first year in business, and a credit score of at least 500.
3. Purchasing Inventory
Product or retail-oriented businesses often require financing to purchase additional inventory, keep their shelves stocked and maintain profitability and reputation. Due to seasonal shifts in the number of sales and cash flow, businesses may experience a greater demand for a product at certain times of the year. An inventory loan can help bridge that gap.
4. Strengthening the Firm
Revenue-based financing is a great alternative for businesses that are growing and/or have a fluctuating cash flow that requires a more consistent stream of funds to keep the business running strong. There really isn’t a “one size fits all” lending solution for every business.
Chris Wilcox, Managing Partner with Premier Business Lending says “You’re going to want to choose alternative lenders that are focused on improving the experience, when applying for capital. If you’re an early-stage business or a start-up, focus on microlenders that have online loan applications. If you’re a later-stage business, focus on nonbank Alternative lenders that have online loan applications, or community banks/credit unions that have online loan applications.”
A multitude of options are available for small businesses to obtain the capital they need to start up, sustain operations, expand and ultimately succeed. Having a solid understanding of the options available and how they meet your business needs is key to determining the lending option that is not only best for your small business, but will offer a quick turnaround and quality user experience.
Many of our clients first come to us with little or no knowledge of the alternative lending industry. Most simply have a need for additional capital and have been turned down by traditional “big bank” lenders and are unaware of the many alternative lending options available on the market today.
In fact, big bank lenders approved a record-low 14.8% of small business loan requests in October, 2012. As more business owners and start-up companies become frustrated with traditional lenders and come to Premier Business Lending for answers, we thought now would be a great time to answer a few questions about the steadily growing alternative lending industry.
What Exactly Is Alternative Lending?
Alternative lending is a broad term used to describe the wide range of loan options available to consumers and business owners outside of a traditional bank loan. These alternative options are most commonly used when an individual or business owner cannot obtain a traditional bank loan for any number of reasons.
Alternative lenders specialize in utilizing overlooked sources of collateral such as real estate or even outstanding invoices to secure the loan. They are typically more flexible than banks when it comes to repayment schedules and loan approval and often provide cash much faster than their traditional banking counterparts.
The alternative lending industry is well established and generally staffed by well respected members of the financial services community.
But Aren’t Alternative Loans Too Expensive?
While alternative loans may sometimes have higher interest rates than traditional bank loans, they fill the gap for small businesses everywhere, providing much needed funding for cash-strapped businesses that have been unable to obtain a loan or line of credit from traditional banks.
This gives business owners the opportunity to invest back into the business, manage cash flow and continue to operate for years to come. Any reputable alternative lender will speak with you at length about the best loan program for your business.
What Types of Alternative Loans Are Available?
There are many different types of alternative loans and several methods for collection as well. Premier Business Lending commonly handles hybrid business lines of credit and asset-based lending for our clients, both of which are good sources of fast, liquid capital for business owners.
Other types of alternative loans include medical practice loans which are designed to help grow medical practices, export loans for export businesses, and equity investment loans in which the lender purchases equity in the borrower’s business.